Man arraigned after chain-reaction collision with Atherton patrol car

In an incident that demonstrates the dangers police officers face after pulling someone over for a traffic ticket, a man reported to be intoxicated slammed his vehicle into an Atherton Police Department patrol car on Nov. 11 and caused a chain reaction that knocked to the ground two officers and the driver being ticketed, authorities said.

Attorneys from the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office will have Luis Felipe Garcia-Pantoja, 19, arraigned today, Dec. 8, on charges that include driving under the influence and causing injury, and driving without a valid license, Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said in a report.

Mr. Garcia-Pantoja is in county jail on $50,000 bail, but he is also on a no-bail hold by federal immigration authorities, Ms. Guidotti said. Police reported his blood-alcohol level, at the time of the accident, to be 0.22 percent, substantially above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Two Atherton police officers had pulled over and were citing a driver who had been traveling southbound on El Camino Real. All three were out of their vehicles when they heard a "loud crash," Ms. Guidotti said.

Mr. Garcia-Pantoja had driven his vehicle into one of the parked patrol cars, which then struck the second patrol car. While the impact somehow knocked everyone to the ground, no one suffered "significant injury or pain," Ms. Guidotti said.


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Posted by Thankful
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm

How very fortunate that nobody was seriously injured in this accident. It could easily have had a tragic outcome. Somebody was smiling down on our hard-working public safety officers that day.

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Posted by Truly a domino effect!
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Glad it wasn't worse.

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Posted by Kops
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Must have been at night. That's the only time of day one will see the Atherton Police, doing their loops on ECR.

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Posted by just wondering
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Was this one of the two brand new patrol cars the town just bought??

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Posted by Post Deletions
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2009 at 7:37 am

Almanac editors deleted my post in which I noted the true statement that last year, Ofc. Dean DeVlugt rear-ended a civillian automobile on Middlefield Road (with a passenger inside) and the Town of Atherton had to pay a settlement. This is true, and in fact more newsworthy than an intoxicated citizen rear-ending a police car.

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Posted by lWhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm

C'mon people--two police offices doing their job could have been hurt (not to mention the driver they were citing) by, if you read the article, an under-aged DRUNK (not intoxicated- .22 is roaring drunk), illegal alien, driving without a license, and almost assuredly without insurance.

Glad the officers and the other driver are ok, and I could care less if the patrol car was one of the new ones or not. Hope the kid has to serve the max before he is deported!

Like this comment
Posted by woops
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I thought the whole point of traffic citations was prevent accidents---I hope this ticket was worth it.

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